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Ira Sachs (#110 of 9)

20 Most Anticipated Fall Films

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20 Most Anticipated Fall Films
20 Most Anticipated Fall Films

If you’re already stressed about catching up on the 2012 films you haven’t yet seen, scrambling to find an art house theater that’s still projecting Moonrise Kingdom and Oslo, August 31st, prepare to hit the panic button. Fall movie season is upon us, and come September, the annual flood of see-them-or-be-left-out titles will pummel your poor movie-buff planning like a surging tsunami. But, hey, look at the bright side: the months of September, October, November, and December almost always feature better fare than any other stretch of the year, and 2012, like clockwork, seems primed to do the same. Unable to keep our preview list to the customary total of 15, we bumped the roster to 20, and there’s still a handful we’re curious about. Can Sam Mendes bring anything more than a fresh martini to the Bond brand with Skyfall? Is Cloud Atlas every bit the fabulous mess it looks to be in its trailer? Is RZA’s martial arts actioner The Man with the Iron Fists in fact the C.R.E.A.M. of the season’s genre crop? We’re not sure, but we feel pretty confident that your fall filmgoing won’t be complete without the following 20 selections. And nobody needs any more holes to fill.

Sundance Film Festival 2012: Keep the Lights On

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Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>Keep the Lights On</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>Keep the Lights On</em>

There’s such a world of difference between Ira Sachs’s second and third features—Forty Shades of Blue is as beautifully delicate as Married Life is self-consciously smarmy—that I approached his new movie with anxious trepidation. I’m happy to report that Keep the Lights On is a major achievement that puts Sachs back where Forty Shades of Blue left him: as a supreme observer of the perils of shared intimacy. The paradox at the heart of his style seems to be that lyricism doesn’t make him foggy-eyed; the grainy haze he bathes his scenes in doesn’t blur the edges of the masterfully rendered personalities of his characters.

The new film shares some thematic concerns with Forty Shades of Blue, again focusing on a foreign-born character living in the U.S. and undergoing a severely confusing relationship, in which strong sexual connection goes hand in hand with self-destruction. But where Forty Shades of Blue told a story of marital infidelity, Keep the Lights On explores the ways in which one lover’s drug abuse steadily undermines a couple’s mutual trust.

Last Address: Film and Website

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I’d like to direct House readers to the new website Last Address, an offshoot of the short film of the same name (embedded above) by my good friend Ira Sachs. The short is comprised of images of the last residences of New York artists who died of AIDS. The website, designed by Joshua Sanchez, offers further information (biographies, interviews, performance videos, audio recordings, essays, etc.) on those included in the film.

Lost Charles Ludlam Films at IFC Center

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Lost Charles Ludlam Films at IFC Center
Lost Charles Ludlam Films at IFC Center

I’d only ever seen the downtown theatrical maestro Charles Ludlam in Mark Rappaport’s interesting but rather obscure Imposters (1980), and he’s hemmed in by that film’s repressed tone, so that the extravagant Ludlam of legend had only been available to me in tales from his theater career, lovingly documented in David Kaufman’s book Ridiculous!: The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam. This past Monday night, Adam Baran and Ira Sachs continued their Queer/Art/Film series at the IFC Center with two little-shown 16mm silent films by Ludlam, Museum of Wax and The Sorrows of Dolores, which were given a sensitive introduction by Antony Hegarty of the band Antony & the Johnsons. Seen together, these films, treated to ideal musical scores by Peter Golub, have radically enlarged my perspective on Ludlam, just as they have instantly joined, in my mind, the best underground films of Jack Smith while retaining an unusual character of their own.

On the Circuit: Married Life

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On the Circuit: <em>Married Life</em>
On the Circuit: <em>Married Life</em>

The opening credits for Ira Sachs’ third feature, Married Life, are a movie unto themselves, an agitated succession of post-WWII suburbanite symbology (generic, mathematically spaced table settings, paisley wallpaper possessed of a decidedly Charlotte Perkins Gilman-esque patina), inhabited by blank-faced animated cutouts (all vintage Madison Avenue smiles), and scored to Doris Day’s manic rendition of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”